“Reality has a liberal bias,” says Stephen Colbert, only half joking. Liberals actually do believe themselves on the side of reason and science.
Well, that ends with their obsession over genetically modified food. Loud liberal “activist” mouths have convinced many in the business to stop R&D on GMO crops because it isn’t worth the hassle. The US can get along fine without them.
Who loses? The poor, the hungry– the very people progressives claim to care about.
…America’s farmers might also find an acceptable workaround. Currently 98% of their soy and 88% of their corn is already employed as feedstock for biofuels or as animal feed, neither of which requires a label. But there would be a large downside in poor countries for moving further along this path.
Developing countries have significant unmet food needs, and GMO food crops are positioned to help. In Asia, poor consumers who currently don’t get enough vitamin A from their rice-only diets could be better protected against blindness if their farmers had permission to plant so-called Golden Rice, which has been genetically engineered with high beta-carotene content.
Farmers and consumers in India currently exposed to toxic insecticides when they grow and eat eggplant could reduce their exposure if farmers had access to a GMO eggplant, Bt brinjal, that needs fewer chemical sprays. Farmers and consumers in East Africa currently vulnerable to hunger and destitution when drought hits their maize fields would be more secure if growers had permission to plant GMO drought-resistant varieties of white maize.
But if America, through a labeling system, joins Europe in embracing a new norm against the cultivation of GMO crops for human food, governments in developing countries, already skittish thanks to activist campaigns, will likely follow suit. The result would be a needless setback for the world’s poorest and hungriest people.
Hint: not enough to spare islands from drowning, if indeed that threat were real.
HT: Susan Gertson
Explanation: Does it rain on the Sun? Yes, although what falls is not water but extremely hot plasma. An example occurred in mid-July 2012 after an eruption on the Sun that produced both a Coronal Mass Ejection and a moderate solar flare. What was more unusual, however, was what happened next.
Plasma in the nearby solar corona was imaged cooling and falling back, a phenomenon known as coronal rain. Because they are electrically charged, electrons, protons, and ions in the rain were gracefully channeled along existing magnetic loops near the Sun’s surface, making the scene appear as a surreal three-dimensional sourceless waterfall.
The resulting surprisingly-serene spectacle is shown in ultraviolet light and highlights matter glowing at a temperature of about 50,000 Kelvin. Each second in the above time lapse video takes about 6 minutes in real time, so that the entire coronal rain sequence lasted about 10 hours.
Why do some children who grow up in poverty do well, while others struggle?
To understand more about this, a group of psychologists recently did a study.
It began in a small spare room where a series of very poor mothers and their 5-month-old babies came to watch a soothing video. Soothing the baby was the point, says Elisabeth Conradt, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University’s Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk. The researchers needed to take measurements of the babies when they were calm.
On the screen, circles of gently colored shapes flickered and music softly played while a sensor taped to the baby’s chest recorded how much the baby’s heart beat when the baby breathed in, and how much the baby’s heart beat when it breathed out.
This simple measure has a complicated scientific name that sounds vaguely like a disease — baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia — but the researchers were interested in it because it can tell you something about how a baby responds to the world around it.
You see, while there’s always a difference between how much the heart beats when a person inhales and when he or she exhales, everyone has a different set point. Sometimes there’s a big difference, and sometimes it’s small. And in very young babies, researchers have noticed that there are different temperaments associated with these different set points.
When there’s a big difference and the set point is high, babies tend to have great attention and can focus for long periods of time on the things in their environment. “When you’re presenting them with a new toy, they’re going to really look at it and inspect it,” says Conradt. “But they also may be more irritable and fussy when parts of their environment are changing.”
In contrast, babies with a low set point “might lose interest after a couple minutes, but they’re also not going to be as fussy or irritable,” she says.
Babies with a high set point seem to have a more sensitive nervous system, which makes them more sensitive to their environment, in both good and bad ways. Babies with a low set point seem to have a less sensitive nervous system, which makes them less sensitive to their environment.
Conradt and her colleagues wondered if this simple measure could be used to predict how children in poverty would fare as they aged…
Read on, the conclusions might surprise you.
A day after an exhaustive national report on cancer found the United States is making only slow progress against the disease, one of the country’s most iconic – and iconoclastic – scientists weighed in on “the war against cancer.” And he does not like what he sees.
James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, lit into targets large and small. On government officials who oversee cancer research, he wrote in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Open Biology, “We now have no general of influence, much less power … leading our country’s War on Cancer.”
On the $100 million U.S. project to determine the DNA changes that drive nine forms of cancer: It is “not likely to produce the truly breakthrough drugs that we now so desperately need,” Watson argued. On the idea that antioxidants such as those in colorful berries fight cancer: “The time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes than prevents cancer.”
That, and a whole host of questions.
Six scientists and a government official were sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter by an Italian court on Monday for failing to give adequate warning of an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in L’Aquila in 2009.
The seven, all members of a body called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, were accused of negligence and malpractice in evaluating the danger and keeping the central city informed of the risks.
The case has drawn condemnation from international bodies including the American Geophysical Union, which said the risk of litigation may deter scientists from advising governments or even working in seismology and seismic risk assessments.
“The issue here is about miscommunication of science, and we should not be putting responsible scientists who gave measured, scientifically accurate information in prison,” Richard Walters of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences said.
“This sets a very dangerous precedent and I fear it will discourage other scientists from offering their advice on natural hazards and trying to help society in this way.”
The scientists, Franco Barberi, Enzo Boschi, Giulio Selvaggi, Gian Michele Calvi, Claudio Eva and Mauro Dolce as well as Bernardo De Bernardis – a senior official in the Civil Protection Authority – were convicted of criminal manslaughter and causing criminal injury.
The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region, at 3:32 a.m. on April 6, wrecking tens of thousands of buildings, injuring more than 1,000 people and killing 308.
Ruben Vives in the LA Times:
A new report on hydraulic fracking at the Inglewood Oil Field found that the controversial oil extraction method used at two wells did not have significant effects on the environment or on the health of those living near the 1,200-acre site.
“Controversial” has been appended to fracking simply because people, who are anti-science, make a lot of noise. The LAT never deems abortion as controversial, despite more than half of Americans being against it.
More than 200 residents of the Baldwin Hills area turned out Monday evening to hear the findings and question the author of the environmental impact study. The meeting was organized by Plains Exploration & Production Co., the owner and operator of the field that paid for the study, and was held at Knox Presbyterian Church in Ladera Heights.
As the findings of the yearlong report were announced by its author, Daniel Tormey of Cardno Entrix, some residents shook their heads in disbelief, some jotted down notes, while others held up signs that read “Stop Fracking Now” and “Stop the Insanity.”
Uh, who is acting insane? Who is anti-science?
Residents living around the oil field have complained about ground movements damaging their properties. Some suspect that the drilling operations of Plains Exploration is causing the movement. But the area also lies atop of the Newport-Inglewood fault.
Tormey said the movements were not related to the company’s activities. He said 21% of the properties were damaged by natural slope instability, which was induced by rainfall.
Residents such as Gary Gless, founder of the Citizens Coalition for a Better Community, weren’t buying it.
“They cannot control the earth,” Gless said.
Other findings show that the groundwater beneath the field is not the source of drinking water for the region. Instead, Tormey said, the water is imported from Northern California and Colorado. Still, he added, the water underneath the field meets drinking standards and no impacts were recorded when the oil extraction method was used at the field.
Here’s my favorite:
“It just seems like the practice is not safe,” said Jessica Yurasek, a resident of Culver City, who clearly wasn’t convinced.
Dear Progressives, it’s time to lighten up and ponder how far we’ve come.
Suspend your fretful ways a moment, stop worrying about what you eat or the carcinogens just waiting to get you, or the fact that some people are richer than others.
Celebrate the fact that–even with corn sugar and gluten in our diets– we live longer, healthier lives than at any time in history.
Humans have done more to extend our life expectancy in the last century than during the previous 6.6 million years, since the evolutionary divergence from chimpanzees.
Modern humans have gotten incomparably good at survival, doing more to extend our lives over the last century than our forebears did in the previous 6.6 million years since we parted evolutionary ways with chimpanzees, according to a new study.
In fact, humans in societies with plentiful food and advanced medicine have surpassed other species used in life-extending medical research in stretching our longevity and reducing our odds of dying at every point along our ever-lengthening life spans, the study finds.
The research, published online Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, touches upon the hotly debated question of whether an upper limit to longevity is inscribed in our genes. It makes clear that life extension begins at birth, with a child born in the last four generations standing a better chance of being alive during infancy, adolescence, the reproductive years and after than in any of the 8,000 human generations that came before.
Bjorn Lombord rips the recent sensational “study” on the dangers of genetically modified foods.
…Supplying an abundance of pictures of rats with tumors the size of ping-pong balls, Séralini certainly captured the public’s attention. France’s health, ecology, and agriculture ministers promised a prompt investigation and threatened to ban imports of Monsanto’s GM corn to the European Union. Russia actually did block imports of Monsanto corn.
But Séralini’s research posed many problematic issues. For starters, the Sprague-Dawley strain of rats that he used is naturally prone to tumors. Studies of Sprague-Dawley rats show that 88-96% of those that serve as experimental controls develop tumors before they reach two years of age. But the public saw only pictures of tumorous rats that had consumed GM corn and Roundup. If the public had seen the similarly grotesque tumors that grow on untreated rats, officials most likely would not have acted so hastily.
Séralini used only 20 rats as a control group to be fed ordinary corn with no Roundup. Of these, five died within two years, which is unusual, because studies of thousands of untreated Sprague-Dawley rats show that about half should have died in that period. Using his low death rate as a base, Séralini claimed – with no statistical analysis – that the higher death rate (just below 40%) for the remaining 180 rats fed with GM corn and Roundup was suspicious.
Moreover, Séralini’s results contradict the latest meta-study of 24 long-term studies (up to two years and five generations), which found that the data do “not suggest any health hazards” and display “no statistically significant differences” between GM and conventional food.
Oddly, Séralini permitted access to his paper to only a select group of reporters, and demanded that they sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from interviewing other experts about the research before publication. But, while the first round of articles read like press releases, the scientific community has since spoken out forcefully. The European Food Safety Authority, for example, has now concluded that the “design, reporting, and analysis of the study, as outlined in the paper, are inadequate.”
The study was partly funded by CRIIGEN, a group that campaigns against biotechnology. CRIIGEN’s scientific board is headed by none other than Séralini, who has also just released a book (in French) and a documentary film decrying GM food.
This debacle matters because many GM crops provide tangible benefits for people and the environment. They enable farmers to produce higher yields with fewer inputs (such as pesticides), so that more food can be produced from existing farmland. That, in turn, implies less human encroachment into natural ecosystems, enabling greater biodiversity. But, of course, Séralini’s pictures of cancer-addled rats munching GM corn have instead been burned into the public imagination…
Mark Bowden on “The Measured Man” in the Atlantic.
Like many people who are careful about their weight, Larry Smarr once spent two weeks measuring everything he put in his mouth. He charted each serving of food in grams or teaspoons, and broke it down into these categories: protein, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, sugar, and fiber.
Larry used the data to fine-tune his diet. With input nailed down, he turned to output. He started charting the calories he burns, in workouts on an elliptical trainer and in the steps he takes each day. If the number on his pedometer falls short of his prescribed daily 7,000, he will find an excuse to go for a walk. Picture a tall, slender man with the supple, slightly deflated look of someone who has lost a lot of weight, plodding purposefully in soft shoes along the sunny sidewalks of La Jolla, California.
Of course, where outputs are concerned, calories are only part of the story, and it is here that Larry begins to differ from your typical health nut. Because human beings also produce waste products, foremost among them … well, poop. Larry collects his and has it analyzed. He is deep into the biochemistry of his feces, keeping detailed charts of their microbial contents. Larry has even been known to haul carefully boxed samples out of his kitchen refrigerator to show incautious visitors. He is eloquent on the subject. He could sell the stuff.
“Have you ever figured how information-rich your stool is?,” Larry asks me with a wide smile, his gray-green eyes intent behind rimless glasses. “There are about 100 billion bacteria per gram. Each bacterium has DNA whose length is typically one to 10 megabases—call it 1 million bytes of information. This means human stool has a data capacity of 100,000 terabytes of information stored per gram. That’s many orders of magnitude more information density than, say, in a chip in your smartphone or your personal computer. So your stool is far more interesting than a computer.”
Larry’s fascination is less with feces themselves than with the data they yield. He is not a doctor or a biochemist, he’s a computer scientist—one of the early architects of the Internet, in fact. Today he directs a world-class research center on two University of California campuses, San Diego and Irvine, called the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or “Calit2” (the 2 represents the repeated I and T initials). The future is arriving faster at Calit2 than it is in most places. Larry says his eyes are focused “10 years ahead,” which in computer terms is more like a century or two, given how rapidly the machines are transforming modern life. Intent on that technological horizon, Larry envisions a coming revolution in medicine, and he is bringing his intellect and his institute to bear on it…
You might think so after a spate of stories that came out three days ago. But as always, it’s useful to check out Health News Review.
- CBS News asked, “Should a carton of eggs contain health warnings like a carton of cigarettes?” And their headline was: “Eating egg yolks leads to two-thirds of the plaque buildup you’d see in a smoker’s arteries, study shows.” Did the study show that?
- A New Jersey site asked, then answered – “Are Egg Yolks Unhealthy as Cigarettes? New Study Has an Answer.” The problem is that the study didn’t answer that, and the story’s last sentence made it clear that the study didn’t answer that.
I could go on because Google produces more than 150 news story returns on the topic, but you’d be better off reading the Behind the Headlines conclusion:
This study found that egg yolk consumption was associated with increased fatty build-up in the arteries of the neck, though this was small when compared to the build-up expected with age. This study has important limitations which mean that it cannot be concluded that egg yolks are as bad for you as smoking:
- Average egg yolk consumption per week and duration was evaluated through a questionnaire response. These are only estimates and may include a considerable degree of inaccuracy. Consumption may vary over time. We also don’t know how these eggs were prepared (boiled, fried in oil, scrambled in butter, etc)….
Read it all.
Kirsten Powers in USA Today
When the White House announced a push to use Title IX— a law best known for increasing female participation in sports — to boost the number of women in the science, technology and math (STEM) fields, there wasn’t much of a reaction. That’s because to most people, there’s not much of a problem. Though the Obama administration claims that girls and women need government help because they are being discriminated against, that might be the opposite of what’s happening.
Women thrive in academia. Fifty-seven percent of college degrees and 60% of graduate degrees go to women. President Obama celebrated this fact on the 40th anniversary of Title IX last month, but ignored the new “problem with no name:” male underachievement. Instead of focusing on addressing this growing problem, the Obama administration is invoking the power of the U.S. government tackle a problem that doesn’t exist. As a woman and an old-school feminist, I want to be the first to say: Thanks, but no thanks.
‘The End of Men’
The liberal feminist groups that are pushing this agenda on the administration complain that women earn only 18% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science. But in reality, that number is a very small part of the story of women in STEM fields. Turns out, women rule in biology with nearly 60% of all bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates awarded to women. Notice that nobody is raging about that gender disparity despite the fact that Title IX protects the underrepresented sex, male or female. According to the Department of Education, no investigations into this or many other gender disparities in favor of girls and women in a variety of disciplines are pending.
Hanna Rosin, in her celebrated Atlantic article “The End of Men,” noted that “women dominate today’s colleges and professional schools — for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same. Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.”
“The End of Men” sounds ominous. Naturally, the answer to this problem is to shove men out of their chosen fields to open spots for women who are likely already thriving in another discipline.
Auntie Sam’s agenda
We are asked to believe that an anti-female gender apartheid exists even though more than 40% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the physical sciences and math go to women. . The National Women’s Law Center complains that women need to be better represented in the STEM fields that are more lucrative. This condescendingly assumes that women don’t already consider these things when choosing a career. They don’t need Big Sister telling them what’s best for them any more than a male student needs to be steered away from his (more…)
When men get stressed, they like women with some flesh on them.
…being a good potential mate isn’t just dictated by our DNA. Current health status, ability to provide for young, and other variable factors also play a role in how fit a person is as a potential husband or wife. A woman can have all the good genes in the world, for example, but if she’s starving, she won’t have the fat reserves to feed a child, let alone survive pregnancy. So, it makes sense that in times of hardship, men would prefer women better equipped to handle times of scarcity – and by better equipped, I mean with fat reserves.
“A primary function of adipose tissue is the storage of calories, which in turn suggests that body fat is a reliable predictor of food availability,” explain co-authors Viren Swami and Martin J. Tovée in their PLoS ONE paper released today. “In situations marked by resource uncertainty, therefore, individuals should come to idealise heavier individuals.”
But do times of hardship actually shift body size preferences? Science to date has supported this hypothesis, as hungrier and poorer men prefer larger women. But what Swami and Tovée wanted to know was whether the stress had to be related to food scarcity. What about other kinds of stress? Does stress in general shift preferences, or only hardship?
So, the team took college men and had half of them perform a stressful task unrelated to food or money which raised their cortisol levels. They then asked the stressed and unstressed men to take a look at some images of women, and rate their attractiveness. The images varied in body size, from underweight to obese. Finally, they recorded the participants own weight, height, and hunger status, as controlling variables.
The results were clear. The stressed out guys preferred a larger body size than their relaxed counterparts – but that was not all. “Men experiencing stress not only perceive a heavier female body size as maximally attractive, but also more positively perceive heavier female body sizes and have a wider range of body sizes considered physically attractive,” explain the authors.
The wider range of preference was notably one-sided. “This difference was driven by the shift in the experimental group’s upper limit of attractive female bodies,” the authors write. “While there was no significant difference in the lower end of the range, the experimental group appear to have shifted the maximum cut-off for attractive bodies at higher BMIs, which resulted in their wider attractiveness range.”
Title IX opened collegiate sports to women. Depending on who you ask, this was a good idea.
A definitely bad idea–Obama’s idea–is to extend that to science and math education to make it more “fair.”
When college women study science, they tend to gravitate toward biology–about 58 percent of all bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in biology go to women. In contrast, women earn some 17 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science and just over 40 percent of bachelor’s degrees in physical sciences and mathematics.
The likely reason for this, found in the study The Mathematics of Sex” (2009) by Cornell psychologists Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams, is that women tend to be drawn to “organic” fields involving people and living things, whereas men are more interested in the objects and abstractions that are the focus of STEM majors. Aversion to math plays a role too: a University of Bristol study finds that biologists tend not to pay attention to scholarly articles in their field that are packed with mathematical equations.
Yet the Obama administration sticks closely to the hard-line feminist argument that the problem is bias: women are somehow being denied access to STEM courses. On June 20 the White House announced that it would issue guidelines expanding the scope of Title IX to cover science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The bias argument is blatantly unscientific. As Christina Hoff Sommers wrote:
Males and females appear equally intelligent, on average. But on standardized intelligence tests, more males than females get off-the-chart test scores—in both directions. The greater variance of males on intelligence tests is one of the best-established findings in psychometric literature. More males are mentally deficient, and more are freakishly brilliant.
The elites are the point of our intellectual spear.
It makes no sense to dumb down the elites (and when you speak of dumbing down this cohort, the “dumb” are way brighter that the average mortal, just not as bright as the geniuses).
Well, it does make sense to an ideologue such as Obama. If he gets his way, our intellectual talent pool will be watered down. We will lose our edge. Human potential will go untapped.
And the progressives boast that Obama is a pragmatist.
For more on this, read Christina Sommers from 2009.
Last week, a California biotech company announced that its human stem cells restored memory in rodents bred to have an Alzheimer’s-like condition—the first evidence that human neural stem cells can improve memory.
The company, called StemCells, is betting that its proprietary preparation of stem cells from fetal brain tissue will take on many different roles in the central nervous system. The company and its collaborators have already shown that its stem-cell product has potential in protecting vision in diseased eyes, acting as brain support cells, or improving walking ability in rodents with spinal cord injury.
This metamorphic ability is not so surprising—they are stem cells, after all. But experts say the quality of scientists involved in StemCells and the interesting properties of its cells sets the company apart. “They’ve really been steadfast in their work to get these cells into clinical trials. That is a tough road and they’ve done it,” says Larry Goldstein, a neuronal stem-cell researcher and director of UC San Diego’s stem-cell program.
The company discovered the technique to isolate these cells from brain tissue in 1999 and has since spent some $200 million improving the technology. “Now we are really in the exciting phase, because now we are looking at human clinical data, as opposed to just small animals,” says StemCells CEO Martin McGlynn.
It’s astonishing how much damage one arrogant, know-nothing president can do.
When liberal utopia has been achieved, educational opportunities in the sciences will be distributed by our rulers based not on aptitude, but on moonbattery:
Quotas limiting the number of male students in science may be imposed by the Education Department in 2013. The White House has promised that “new guidelines will also be issued to grant-receiving universities and colleges” spelling out “Title IX rules in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.” These guidelines will likely echo existing Title IX guidelines that restrict men’s percentage of intercollegiate athletes to their percentage in overall student bodies, thus reducing the overall number of intercollegiate athletes. …
Earlier, writing in Newsweek, President Obama celebrated the fact that 25 percent fewer men than women graduate from college, calling it a “great accomplishment” for America. Ironically, he lamented the fact that a smaller gender disparity — 17 percent fewer women attending college than men — had once existed before Title IX was implemented. To Obama, gender disparities are only bad when they disfavor women. Under his strange idea of equality, equality means men losing out to women.
Yet there are people who consider themselves men who voted for Obama and will do it again.
Obama hinted that Title IX quotas would soon come to engineering and techology, saying that “Title IX isn’t just about sports,” but also about “inequality in math and science education” and “a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it.”
That is, he will use Big Government to force it to be the case. If reality doesn’t conform to liberal ideology, just beat on it with a hammer until it complies.
Christina Hoff Sommers wrote earlier about this looming liberal war on science. Based on a campaign promise Obama made to feminist groups in October 2008, Sommers foresaw the Obama Administration moving to artificially cap male enrollment in math and science classes to achieve gender proportionality — the way that Title IX currently caps male participation in intercollegiate athletics. The result could be a substantial reduction in the number of scientists graduating from America’s colleges and universities.
As coercive political correctness replaces merit, there is no segment of soc
iety that will not experience decay.
A couple weeks back I listened to an episode of Radio Lab on NPR about the human gut. It’s a fascinating hour covering multiple subjects.
But the one that grabbed my attention was the connection dynamic between organisms living in our gut and our brains. Yep, what we eat may make us what we are.
Today’s LA Times has an article about a cat parasite that can make humans more suicide prone.
A wily parasite well known for influencing the behavior of its animal hosts appears to play a troubling role in humans, increasing the risk of suicide among women who are infected, new research shows.
Chances are you or someone you know has been infiltrated by the parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii. Researchers estimate that T. gondii is carried by 10% to 20% of Americans, who can get it by changing litter used by infected cats or eating undercooked meat from an animal carrying the bug.
Despite its prevalence in humans, the protozoan is most famous for the strange effect it has on the brains of rats and mice…
Want one reason for your beer belly? How about 100 quintillion? That’s about how many bacteria live in your gut. And scientists now believe these bacteria can have a significant impact on your weight.
Consuming high amounts of fructose (a type of sugar), artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) cause your gut bacteria to adapt in a way that interferes with your satiety signals and metabolism, according to a new paper in Obesity Reviews. (If you’ve noticed you’ve been feeling tired all the time and gaining weight, your metabolism may be slowing.)
“An evolution of the gut flora to this new sweetener-rich environment has a potential to negatively impact our health,” says Amanda Payne, Ph.D., lead author of the review.
How does that happen? As bacteria in the gut process food, they give off byproducts called short-chain fatty acids. These can be beneficial and serve as energy in the body. But as the sweetener-adapted bacteria thrive and become more efficient at processing large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols, they also produce more and more short-chain fatty acids. (Not to imply that sugar is any better than artificial sweeteners….
Lewis Page in the UK Register.
My favorite part is the work done by the elephant seals, seen below playing off the coast of California. These are young males of the northern species.
Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic have been compared with reality for the first time – and found to be wrong, so much so that it now appears that no ice is being lost at all.
“Previous ocean models … have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place,” says Tore Hattermann of the Norwegian Polar Institute, member of a team which has obtained two years’ worth of direct measurements below the massive Fimbul Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica – the first ever to be taken.
According to a statement from the American Geophysical Union, announcing the new research:
It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass.
The team’s results show that water temperatures are far lower than computer models predicted …
Hatterman and his colleagues, using 12 tons of hot-water drilling equipment, bored three holes more than 200m deep through the Fimbul Shelf, which spans an area roughly twice the size of New Jersey. The location of each hole was cunningly chosen so that the various pathways by which water moves beneath the ice shelf could be observed, and instruments were lowered down.
The boffins also supplemented their data craftily by harvesting info from a biology project, the Marine Mammal Exploration of the Oceans Pole to Pole (MEOP) effort, which had seen sensor packages attached to elephant seals.
“Nobody was expecting that the MEOP seals from Bouvetoya would swim straight to the Antarctic and stay along the Fimbul Ice Shelf for the entire winter,” Hattermann says. “But this behaviour certainly provided an impressive and unique data set.”
Normally, getting sea temperature readings along the shelf in winter would be dangerous if not impossible due to shifting pack ice – but the seals were perfectly at home among the grinding floes.
Overall, according to the team, their field data shows “steady state mass balance” on the eastern Antarctic coasts – ie, that no ice is being lost from the massive shelves there. The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
This is good news indeed, as some had thought that huge amounts of ice were melting from the region, which might mean accelerated rates of sea level rise in future
Milky Way, Andromeda galaxies set to crash — in 4 billion years
The Milky Way is set to collide with its closest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope said Thursday. Galactic residents need not brace for impact just yet, however: The predicted collision would take place in 4 billion years.
Andromeda, officially known as Messier 31, or M31, is located about 2.5 million light-years away from the Milky Way — which would make it our closest fellow spiral galaxy. Spiral galaxies have flat, rotating, disc-shaped bodies with spiral arms anchored by a supermassive black hole at the center…
Could be painful.
When it comes to names, everybody’s got an opinion. But while figuring out what names people like is pretty simple — the U.S. Social Security Administration keeps a list of the most popular baby names each year — figuring out what people hate is trickier.
It turns out that in the case of names, love and hate aren’t mutually exclusive. A new informal survey of the most disliked names in America finds that popularity often breeds backlash, as a quick track to baby-name fame seems to also trigger hate for that name. Among the most-hated “trendy” names are Jayden, Brayden, Madison and Addison.
The most commonly cited name that put people’s teeth on edge was Nevaeh, or “heaven” spelled backward. That name didn’t exist until the 1990s, but it took off in popularity in 2003, shooting from the 150th most common baby name in that year to the 31st most popular in 2007 (as of 2009, it stood at No. 34).
“Nevaeh in particular seems to stand as this symbol … for what people don’t like in modern baby names,” Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby” (Three Rivers Press, 2005), told LiveScience.
The most hated baby names
Wattenberg did the informal survey of hated names for her blog, The Baby Name Wizard. She scoured general-interest message boards online, looking for conversations about baby names that make people cringe. She included only two message boards that were specifically for baby names, because name enthusiasts tend to know trends and might skew the results. The other boards included a motorcycle travel forum, a video game fan board and several parenting forums. The participants skewed female and under the age of 60, Wattenberg said. All told, more than 1,500 names were cited. Wattenberg calculated which names came up the most. [See the list of most hated boy and girl names]
Wattenberg is quick to point out that the survey isn’t scientific, but it does have the advantage of capturing the names people spontaneously hate. A formal survey that gave people an option to rank names would likely bias people by putting ideas into their heads, Wattenberg said…
Could obesity be cured by injecting our guts with fecal bacteria from ancient mummies?
It sounds outrageous, but King Tut’s stomach bacteria might hold the cure for obesity.
Researchers have recently discovered that modern use of antibiotics has wreaked havoc on the health and content of our gut bacteria. In turn, these changes have altered how our metabolisms work, possibly making us more prone to getting fat.
Now scientists from the University of Oklahoma have proposed an unexpected solution: Why not replenish our gut flora using fecal bacteria from ancient mummies as a guide?
Since ancient mummies lived in an era before antibiotics, it’s worth a look to see how their intestinal bacteria differed from modern gut flora, to discover what has changed. For the study, researchers not only performed DNA analysis on samples collected from the intestines of mummies found in North and South America, but they also hunted for preserved feces left in ancient cave soil, reports NineMSN.
Here’s the pitch for a new horror movie franchise: kids at fat camp each mummy turds, turn into ravaging gangs of psycho killers.
We recently watched an episode of NOVA on PBS from 2010 about diving in Caribbean blue holes — very deep caves that look blue because of their depth.
Among other things, they have stalactites formed thousands of years ago during dry periods. Because the mineral formations are built drop by drop over a very long time, they are a time capsule of sorts. Like polar ice cores, but more relevant because of their location.
The big news was that the climate record showed five abrupt climate changes — abrupt meaning they took a mere 50 years to complete — over a period going back 71,000 years.
Note: there were no fossil fuel burning humans at any of these intervals to cause climate change.
This bring us to writer Jerry Pournelle
…I still have no answer to questions I asked forty years ago regarding the global warming controversy.
I said then that what we knew was well known: that in historical times the Earth has been both warmer and colder than it is now. It was warmer in Viking times until about 1300 after which the Earth began to cool. Since 1800 the Earth’s temperature has risen about a degree a century. About 1900 Arrhenius did some back of the envelope predictions of what would happen if CO2 levels doubled. Since 1900 the Earth’s temperature seems to have risen at about the rate that it had previously been rising: that is, there is warming, but there has been warming from 1800 when the Hudson and Thames froze solid enough to walk across, and the rate of warming doesn’t seem to have greatly increased so far as we can measure given the accuracy of the data. Some of the warming may well be due to CO2 but there doesn’t seem to be cause for alarm. We do need to continue to study this and develop better measurement tools.
A Bayesian analysis would conclude that it is better to invest in ways to reduce uncertainty than to spend resources on the predictions of the models; there is just too much uncertainty.
I also concluded long ago that cooling was still a possible threat: that the return of the glaciers requires energy to transport the water vapor to the cold areas where it can fall as snow, and this can have a runaway effect. That needs to be watched.
Regarding science and cherry picking: I would have thought that the experimentum crucis was the essence of science, and that’s certainly cherry picking. As I said long ago in my essay on the Voodoo Sciences, novelist need plausibility, lawyers need evidence, but scientists need data and hypotheses that explain all the data: one contrary result (cherry picking) is important. Look at the controversy over whether or not they have found faster than light neutrinos. No one supposes that if we are certain of FTL particles this will not force a revolutionary change in our standard models in physics. It won’t be dismissed as cherry picking.
As to Lindzen not having changed his conclusions over the years, I think I could easily say the same thing about many of the AGW believers. What I find alarming is that Lindzen asks questions about the models and their predictions, and concludes that there is not enough evidence to justify panic: that the best evidence is that the increasing CO2 is not a justification for alarm, and particularly not enough quality evidence to justify spending $Trillions on revising the entire industrial economy. What I get is a sociological discussion about the quality of the debate, and a discussion of Lindzen. I would not think that is a rational scientific discussion.